Monday, August 22, 2011

FRINGE: The Legend of Julie Taymor, or The Musical That Killed Everybody

I was sick of Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark before even the first preview. I was relieved when the musical officially opened, if only so I wouldn't have to hear about it anymore. But The Legend of Julie Taymor was so entertaining that I didn't mind hearing the the well-known saga again. I had a much better time at this Fringe show than at either version of Spider-Man.

The title is the only place where Julie Taymor's name is mentioned. In the musical by Travis Ferguson, producer Frank Kashowitz (Johnnie Moore) has the idea to turn the popular comic franchise Spider-Dude into a musical and he wants Bruno (Clint Carter), lead singer of the band U[squared] to write the music, but Bruno will only agree if they get Julie Paymore (a show-stealing Jennifer Barnhart) to direct.

Sure, Turn Off the Dark is an easy target, but Ferguson's attention to detail is impressive. The musical follows the trajectory of the spectacular failure pretty closely, from lead producer's death to delayed openings to actor injuries, so the more you know about its history, the more you'll laugh. For example, most avid theatergoers will recognize Lionel Weasel (Christopher Davis Carlisle, another standout in the cast), the gossip columnist intent on destroying Spider-Dude, as Michael Riedel of the New York Post. Of course, there is comic exaggeration. I doubt Riedel and Taymor have any sort of romantic history or that Christopher Tierney's accident was purposefully orchestrated by Taymor.

The score by Dave Ogrin (he and Ferguson co-wrote lyrics) is at its best when mocking Turn Off The Dark's score. A highlight is "Boy Falls From the Rafters"--sung by Barry Shafrin as the adorably naive Billy--a perfect send-up of "Boy Falls From The Sky." As someone who saw a preview of version 1.0, "Tweet , Tweet, Tweet!"--sung by audience members tweeting at the first preview--was an accurate depiction of what it was like to watch the mess of a show. ("Where are they going on the tangent? Still can't understand the words. 3 hours in. What's worse, the music or the dancing?")

The creators left no stone unturned with touches like Katie White's comic-book style props (even Starbucks cups are made of cardboard). I would like to see more from Ogrin and Ferguson, but now can we please stop talking about Spider-Man?

The final performance is Wed 24 @ 7.

1 comment:

Mackenzi said...

Hahah! You had me laughing with this article alone! It sounds like a great show!